The Western Australia Bucket List

You haven’t truly “done” Western Australia unless you’ve done these 100 experiences.

#50 - Visit The HMAS Sydney II Memorial

Where is it? Geraldton, WA

This moving and harrowing reminder of the futility of war was constructed at Geraldton to commemorate the 645 sailors who lost their lives after the sinking of the HMAS Sydney just off the cost during World War II. The memorial is a striking piece of artwork in its own right, however it's the weight of what it signifies that makes the landmark truly worth a visit; perched on a hill overlooking the Indian Ocean where the ship's sinking took place, the dome comprised of a composition of soaring birds makes for a lookout point that manages to be both awe-inspiring and sombre at the same time. The quality of workmanship that went into its creation is obvious, and it's well curated with a documentation of the story of the HMAS Sydney and its untimely demise.

As much a tribute to those who were left awaiting the return of lost loved ones as the military members themselves, the memorial is a must-see monument for history enthusiasts and Australians in general. Tours of he memorial are conducted daily by volunteers at 10:30am that help explain all aspects of the site, and afterwards the view overlooking Geraldton itself is well worth appreciating as well. Walking from Geraldton to the memorial is doable despite some hills, while driving is also possible for the lazier among us. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia

#49 - Historic Insight at Fremantle Prison

Where is it? Fremantle, WA

This highly impressive landmark is notable for many reasons, yet the simple fact that it's the state's only World Heritage listed building speaks volumes about Fremantle Prison's significance. Decommissioned in 1991 and opened to the public in 1992, the prison offers one of the most detailed available insights into historic convict life, and its majestic yet slightly intimidating limestone facade belies the atmosphere to be found within. It's an interesting yet undeniably eerie place, with the recounting of the history of its various inmates of this former maximum-security facility - and the conditions they were subjected to as punishment - often chilling; there was definitely no TV and pampering of prisoners in these historic times. Different sections of the prison are explorable including the standard cells, chapel, prison yards, and - most spine-tingling of all - the gallows where executions were carried out.

Tours of Fremantle Prison come in different flavours; there's the standard "Doing Time" tour that covers its conventional highlights, as well as a more adventurous Tunnel Tour for those willing to descend further into the prison's depths. Evening tours by torchlight, meanwhile, provide an even more sinister atmosphere, with the storytelling abilities of the prison's guides able to switch from entertaining to hair-raising in a matter of moments. After taking in all of its features, it's rather daunting to consider that this facility was in active use just over a mere 20 years ago! Perhaps Fremantle's top tourist attraction, the prison is a unique way to spend an hour or two gaining perspective on both historic life in jail as well as Fremantle's past as a whole and makes for a captivating experience. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia

#48 - Kings Park, Botanic Garden & Walkway

Where is it? Perth, WA

In terms of focal points and public meeting places for a city, Kings Park and its many features contained within are an exemplary example of urban planning done right. While almost every major urban area has some sort of botanical gardens or central grassed area, Kings Park takes all of the key ingredients that make such a space pleasant and blends them together into a single, wonderful, well-maintained whole. With an outlook that overlooks the city skyline, the meandering waters of the Swan River and all the way out to the Perth Hills in the distance, the view is impressive but only part of what makes the hub of Perth special.

There's a section featuring a war memorial and plaques dedicated to our Vietnam veterans that's a classy and wonderfully-done testament to our servicemen and women as well as Bali bombing victims overlooking the water, spectacular Botanic Gardens that is truly breathtaking during the spring season, and the absolute best vantage point of the city available from the park's Fraser Avenue Lookout – a view comparable to typical “tower-based” lookout points in other cities with the benefits of fresh air and not being enclosed by glass. Public barbecues, plenty of parking, clean and regularly maintained public toilets, play equipment for kids, and water fountains placed throughout at regular intervals (great for joggers) all add to the overall convenience factor of spending a day in the park. Image credit: Experience Perth

#47 - Sandboard the Lancelin Sand Dunes

Where is it? Lancelin, WA

Western Australia's largest sand dunes aren't merely impressive to look at - they've also been a favoured hub for some fun-filled adventures for locals for a long time. With massive, pure-white sand towers that stretch as far as the eye can see and which reach three storeys high, the Lancelin Sand Dunes aren't just a unique landscape to explore; they're the focal point for one of the region's most iconic experiences - sandboarding. It's one of the simplest joys that families can take part in - all the activity takes is a board (rentable in town for $10 per hour) and picking a decent-sized dune, and you've got yourself a makeshift natural theme park ride without the painful queues.

Sandboarding make take a couple of goes to attempt before getting the technique down, but the resulting slide is a thrill that's easy for all ages to appreciate. While it's certainly a good workout for the legs having to climb continually back to the top, the effort is largely worth the enjoyment. Those looking to explore the dunes further can do so in two ways; travellers equipped with a sturdy 4WD vehicle may drive them (regular vehicles can still access the dunes via a carpark situated adjacent), or they can be visited as part of a tour with Adams Pinnacle Tours, who provide off-road adventures at Lancelin on their tour itineraries. Simply, fun, and visually impressive, the Lancelin Sand Dunes make for a memorable day out - just be sure to wear sunscreen, as the sunshine reflected off the sand can be biting. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia

#46 - Tour the Recherche Archipelago

Where is it? Off the coast of Esperance, WA

Off the coast off Esperance lies this large concentration of islands that range in size from small spurs of granite all the way up to fully-fleged, campable islands with basic facilities. While there are over 1500 in total when counting the smallest specks of land, the official number hovers around 105 and are renowned not only for forming a scenic seascape, but serving as home to a wide variety of wildlife that call many of them home. As a result of both of these factors, the Recherche Archipelago makes for a wonderful cruising destination - albeit one that has to be navigated carefully and has resulted in more than a few shipwrecks having occurred throughout history. There are a number of notible scenic highlights within the archipelago, with the most famous being the vividly-coloured Lake Hillier (or "Pink Lake") on Middle Island - the largest island in the group.

Those looking to explore the archipelago from the sea can join operator Esperance Island Cruises on a journey through its waters, which present the chance to take in a huge array of wildlife such as Australian Fur Seals, dolphins, island goats, and numerous varieties of sea birds. Cruises are also available that visit Woody Island - the only landable island in the chain - that offers the chance to explore its shores, or engage in some quality snorkelling in the surrounding waters. Coupled with some insight into the rich natural and cultural history of the area, and they make for a great blend of environmental highlights and interesting background of this picturesque portion of southern WA. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia

#45 - Explore Windjana Gorge

Where is it? King Leopold Ranges, WA

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Windjana Gorge National Park is one of many highlights of the amazing Kimberley region of Western Australia; the park is rich in vegetation and wildlife, contrasting largely with the vast desert ideals many visitors tend to have of this part of the state. The gorge itself makes for an incredible walk which is accessed via a cleft through rocks, and cuts its way through ancient limestone walls that rise up to extraordinary heights on either side. The gorge is often acclaimed as "THE" location for spotting freshwater crocodiles in the wild in Western Australia, and during the walk it's not hard to see why - dozens of the reptiles can be seen sunning themselves on the gorge's banks, and while the spectacle may initially prove intimidating, they're largely simply passive observers that make for a unique photography subject.

Large quantities of birds and other wildlife add an additional layer of life to the gorge, and with its overhanging greenery of fig trees and body of water throughout, it's a veritable oasis in the desert. Those wanting to explore the gorge in depth can embark on a comprehensive 4-wheel-drive tour to Windjana Gorge and neighbouring Tunnel Creek with Kimberley Wild Expeditions that can be done is a shorter trip or as part of a more epic, multi day Kimberley adventure. Campers at the gorge's campsite will be impressed with its surprisingly good facilities - not to mention gorgeous backdrop - as well. Image credit: Tourism Western Australia

#44 - Animal encounters at Caversham Wildlife Park

Where is it? Whiteman Park, WA

One of the greater Perth region's most entertaining hotspots for animal lovers, Caversham Wildlife Park sits around half an hour's drive to the north east of the Perth CBD inside the large Whiteman Park. A family-owned facility that places a high emphasis on animal interaction, Caversham boasts the largest privately-owned collection of native wildlife in WA with an animal head count numbering over 2000, giving visitors the chance to get up close to a range of friendly, cuddly and playful wildlife. Guests to the park have plenty of opportunities to take part in free shows and demonstrations, get extra insight from the friendly park staff, and hand-feed a range of the animals - all at no extra charge after initial admission is paid.

The animal species here are diverse and feature a wide and varied range of reptiles, marsupials, birds and more that sum up everything "Aussie" wildlife is all about; hand-feeding kangaroos, patting a possum, posing with a koala and getting to know a big, lazy wombat are all on the table here. Park staff conduct various shows and interactive experiences throughout the day, including a farm show showcasing the likes of sheep shearing and cow milking, wombat meet, and various other scheduled highlights. The park is continually improving, the animals all look happy and well-cared-for, and staff are both generous with their time and well-informed, all of which make for an excellent family day out.Image credit: Tourism Western Australia

#43 - Cruise the Swan River

Where is it? Perth/Fremantle, WA

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A key component of what makes Perth such a picturesque city, the Swan River winds its way alongside the capital and helps bridge it with neighbouring Fremantle where the river meets its end. A focal point for residents to both hang out by its banks and paddle on its waters, the river also serves as an idyllic conduit for visitors to take a cruise and see the city from an entirely different angle. Perth's relative lack of skyscrapers compared to other capitals means views from a vessel floating down the Swan are far more open and uninhibited than most, and taking in the likes of the Bell Tower, the new Elizabeth Quay, and the various upmarket suburbs that line its shores make for a tranquil and scenic experience.

Cruises of the Swan River come in a number of different flavours, lengths and itinerary types; passengers can take a simple half-day or full day cruise along the river for views of the Perth cityscape, enjoy a buffet lunch or dinner cruise for some dining with a difference, or even take extended cruises all the way to the Swan Valley to be combined with winery visits at their conclusion. Those wanting to take a leisurely river ride can join Captain Cook Cruises, who offer a number of different cruise itineraries; alternatively those who have their own vessels can ply their way down this scenic waterway themselves.Image credit: Captain Cook Cruises

#42 - The National ANZAC Centre

Where is it? Albany, WA

Telling the stories of the thousands of Australians and New Zealanders that left Albany en route to fight in World War I, the National ANZAC Centre was erected in Albany Heritage Park to honour these brave individuals and keep their memory alive. It’s a well-thought-out, modern yet respectful attraction that, through interactive multi-media displays, artefacts and various rare images and videos, aims to educate visitors on the trying times people went through both during and after the war. The Centre strikes an interesting contrast, as it incorporates a number of high-tech methods such as touch screens and an original card system for conveying its information with an old-world, historic subject, however it works exceptionally well for making visitors feel more involved in the ANZAC story.

The chronicle of the 1914-18 period is conveyed largely via retellings of stories through the eyes of the ANZACs themselves, with exhibits laid out in chronological order and showcase the sacrifice of the individuals involved. The attraction is situated in a lovely setting overlooking King George Sound, with wonderful panoramic windows that grant spectacular views of the water; ironically, this beauty serves to make the somber tales absorbed inside somehow even more easy to appreciate. Interactive, informative and above all extremely moving, the National ANZAC Centre is a must-visit in the Albany region. Image credit: National Anzac Centre

#41 - Secluded Paradise at Little Beach near Albany

Where is it? 35km from Albany, WA

A small slice of the Two People's Bay Nature Reserve to Albany's east, Little Beach's blend of bright turquoise waters, pristine sands and massive boulders makes for a colourful and contrasting panorama that's akin to something out of a postcard. A case can be made that this is Western Australia's most beautiful beach; it's quiet and intimate, and its lack of surrounding development means its nature is largely untouched, while the sand is utterly lacking in pollution. The beach offers excellent swimming and snorkelling - although its waves make it a no-go for small children - and fishermen can also find a decent on-shore catch here.

Exploring Little Beach's rocky surrounds is likewise an adventure, with its walks a must-do, as along the way you'll encounter a number of rockpools full of marine life, and even have the chance to spot kangaroos whilst navigating the wilderness. The walk makes its way around to the nearby visitor's centre where parking and barbecue areas can be utilised as well. While it takes a fair hike to reach after a drive that is largely unspectacular, remember that the beach's isolation is what makes it special; it's almost always uncrowded, and there are no shops or major buildings nearby - so be sure to bring your own food and drink to make an extended stay out of the trip. An underrated and obscure sliver of paradise, be sure to pay a visit to Little Beach before the rest of the world catches on. Image credit: Tourism WA

Western Australia MapWestern Australia is not merely Australia’s largest state; its size leads to some of the greatest variety in both experiences and landscapes of any of the country’s territories. As a result, a trip across the massive state can encompass a drastically broad range of tableaus and vistas, people, foods and wines, and amazing landscapes and geographical features.

The northern and southern ends of Western Australia are thus drastically different; one is a ruggedly beautiful land of vivid reds, where ochre rocks clash with vivid blue waters, vast deserted beaches make for incredible escapes, and some unique natural phenomena unlike anything else in the country can be found. In this portion of the state, you’re as likely to enjoy a camel ride on the beach alongside a blazing sunset as you are to venture into the heart of one of Australia’s most intriguing National Parks.

Head south, and an intermingled land of beautiful beach-pocketed coastline, verdant wine producing regions and Australia’s sunniest capital city await. Perth serves as a laid-back, picturesque and enjoyable springboard for exploring many of the states adventures – it’s entirely up to you whether you choose to venture north, south, or even east where a taste of the Australian Outback awaits. Do epic marine adventures swimming alongside the world’s largest fish entice you? Exmouth and the Ningaloo Marine Park await. Are you wanting a picturesque island escape a mere ferry ride away from the capital? Look towards the beach-and-wildlife-rich Rottnest Island. Looking to sample some of the country’s best up-and coming wines and other fresh produce? Margaret River is only a couple of hours drive away.

From Broome to Albany and everywhere around and in-between, it’s this diversity that makes Western Australia such a vastly different experience for each and every traveller – one where each is free to craft their own amazing travel story. On this Western Australia bucket list, we hand-pick the 100 experiences that we feel best sum up the state’s many wonderful offerings.

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The Western Australia Bucket List Map

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